About Got Weeds?

Got Weeds? is a Vermont company that uses manual and non-synthetic control methods to eradicate, contain, or suppress  non-native invasive plants.  Click here to see the company’s sustainability considerations.

Got Weeds? was founded in 2011 on the notion that hard work does pay off when coupled with a pro-active, informed approach to understanding natural systems.  The idea that fine-tuned ecosystems can be protected with vigilance, persistence, patience, education, humility, respect, and cooperation is central to the philosophy at Got Weeds?.

Owner Mike Bald has worked to protect sensitive areas from the negative effects of non-native invasive plants since 2003.  Manual control methods ARE effective in many scenarios, but few people have documented their efforts through to completion.  Mike has worked to control numerous plant species, including giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, black swallow-wort, Japanese barberry, and wild parsnip.  A goal of Got Weeds? is to demonstrate through careful documentation that proper planning and appropriate treatments can be successful without turning to the use of synthetic chemical products.

Got Weeds? is not a lawn care company, nor does it seek to re-direct the efforts of farmers who have found a workable balance with the weeds in their cultivated fields.  Rather, Mike will work with landowners to control unwanted weeds, shrubs, and vines around field edges, yard borders, forested landscapes, and streamside areas.  Frequently, it is a collection of several non-native invaders that are impacting an area, each species carrying its own growth characteristics, timing considerations, and control challenges.  This underscores the importance of creating an invasive plant management plan to move your property closer to the condition you envision.

Contact Mike and feel free to send site photos if you have a particular question about your property.

8 Responses to About Got Weeds?

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  2. Eileen Houle says:

    I read that the wild parsnips do not seed until the end of summer. But I think I have some wild parsnips but they’ve already gone to seed and I didn’t know if they were the same plant or not how do I tell

    • choosewiselyvt says:

      Thanks Eileen, not sure where you’re writing in from, but I’ll try to offer some tips.
      First, like many species, wild parsnip flowers out in waves.
      Big flower heads with thousands of tiny yellow flowers.
      There is a peak window, but there are also early risers and late bloomers.
      Some plants do not actually flower until late AUG, perhaps even SEP.
      And mowing complicates things, because the plants still flower, but the whole process just suffers a delay.
      The biqgest factor for you is whether your property is north or south-facing.
      Often, the south-facing properties are a couple weeks ahead of those that get less direct sunlight.

      I know the guidebooks all talk about clear defintions for the plant species.
      Books I’ve seen say that parsnip reaches a height of 4-5 feet, but I’ve experienced many sites where they approach 8 feet.
      The banner photo on this website illustrates the basic, recognizable structure of wild parsnip well.
      Those plants are actually giant hogweed, 12 feet tall, but wild parsnip looks almost identical once it has “gone by.”
      Those flat-topped flower umbels are very similar.
      You might find good photos by searching the Latin name which is Pastinaca sativa.
      I’ll see if I can post one; there’s a good shot on my LinkedIn site, too.

      So as for the seeds, parsnip needs a couple weeks to harden the seeds before they are viable.
      This is when I pull them by the thousands and let them sun-bake.
      From flower to hardened seeds is maybe 20 days max.
      And the center flower head (umbel) is the first to harden off or turn brownish and flaky.
      It is way ahead of all the surrounding umbels. Clever, yes.
      So once the seeds are dry and flaky, they may hang there for another week or so until they begin falling off.
      Wind and sun help this process along, but people who want to prevent an avalanche of seed can still carefully pull the plants or cut off the seed heads and dispose of them. I snip them straight into a bucket and they go to one central spot.
      I can always smother or torch a defined hotspot.
      It’s definitely worthwhile to intercept a couple thousand viable seeds.
      Especially when they are strung out along a roadside or woodline… condense the trouble area.

      So you will likely have some plants that are browned and starting to shed seed now.
      But you’ll also have many that you can still collect or cut and pile.
      Just be careful that the occasional dried seeds don’t drop down into your boots or into your cuffs.
      Bio-security. Treat yourself and your equipment / clothing as contaminated until you’ve cleaned up.
      This means buckets as well.
      I’m not a fan of bags.
      People once recommended bagging the plants, but I could never figure out how to get a 7-foot plant into a standard trash bag.
      Without getting sap all over the place or what not.
      Remember too that you are focused on 2nd year plants because they are the ones that flowered.
      It’s very probable that you will stand in and on all the first-year plants which you can ignore for now, but they will definitely sap you, so clean-up can never be put off.

      I’ll see if I can post a photo or two.
      The only real look-alike species are goldenrod (color) and golden Alexander (also with yellow flowerheads), but parsnip is typically much taller than golden Alexander.
      Thanks again, be safe.

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  4. kdwalla7 says:

    Hi Mike,
    I live next to a prominent hotel in Manchester that has an infestation of giant hogweed. Three years ago, my landscapers refused to mow near our property line because of the appearance of wild hogweed on the hotel’s property. I went so far to have someone out from the state to see if it actually was giant hogweed and they did confirm that it is. Once the hotel was notified, they did something that looked like they decimated the plants, but they keep coming back and we have to notify the hotel that they’re back. My question: Is there any legal responsibility or requirements from the state for commercial properties with the plant on their premises, especially a hospitality venue?

    • Greetings,
      Sorry to hear about the giant hogweed situation, but you raise two absolutely critical questions.
      While I am not in a position to give legal advice, I can point out that landowners have an obligation to manage Known Hazards on their lands (think swimming pools and the need for fencing them off). To ignore known hazards is…. I don’t know, negligent? It’s a big deal, but then we can ask why is it that the state and towns everywhere have “allowed” wild parsnip to take over roadsides and playgrounds and public spaces. Miles and miles of wild parsnip is no longer something people can claim ignorance about.
      Getting back to hogweed, your actual question was on state requirements to remove such a hazardous plant.
      New York actually has a task force and in years past they’ve dealt with some 1100 giant hogweed sites.
      In Vermont, I personally work two sites right now, and I know of several others, but the state does not seem to be pushing the “Eradicate” message too aggressively. You cannot sell or propagate the plants, but they won’t really get after you to absolutely eradicate them. I cannot really fault the state (under-staffed and pulled every which way) but that’s how it is and right now all energy is going toward invasive insect control.
      So some landowners just don’t care, others simply don’t have the money to deal with an infestation, and the state pretty much has to leave it at that. While this may not be the formal state position, that’s the reality I see.

      The sites I’ve worked on have come about through towns making a decision. Towns do have some leverage, and they can help a landowner defray cost, if there’s interest in the topic. I can say that the reason the plants come back periodically is due to the 10-year seed life. I’ve verified the seed life on my two sites, and can confirm that herbicides simply do not address the millions of seeds in the soil. For this reason, a true control project focuses on halting seed production while simultaneously down-sizing the population year after year.
      It can be done, but it’s not something I see landowners doing themselves. Too much risk.

      Send me an email if you’d like contact info for a couple of state folks.
      They need to know about these populations, regardless of what actions they can pursue.
      And your reporting of the situation is a positive action, you’re taking an interest in public safety.
      All it takes is a couple deer brushing past the hogweed to carry the seeds to a new location, so Thank You!

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